Prague, Sept 5 (CTK) – The Czech government prefers purchasing a pig farm in Lety, south Bohemia, situated at the site of a former Nazi internment camp for Romanies, but the opinion of the farm owners is important, Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier (Social Democrats, CSSD) told reporters on Monday.

Talks with the owners have been held since January 2015, he said, adding that they were correct and complex.

“This does not automatically mean that they will turn out successfully. However, the government’s interest is very serious,” Dienstbier said.

At Dienstbier’s request, the government declassified its March resolution confirming its will to terminate the operation of the pig farm at the commemorative place.

The owners prefer the cabinet securing the construction of a similar farm in a similar locality, while the government would prefer a direct purchase of the real estate, Dienstbier admitted.

The owners of the pig farm in Lety do not rule out its sale and they are also willing to negotiate about its exchange for another facility suitable for pigs breeding, Jan Cech, deputy chairman of the board of the AGPI company owning the farm, told CTK.

“We are trying to find a solution, but so far all talks have been in general terms,” Cech told CTK, adding that the government in the past never offered a particular solution, including the exact sum or another facility.

The owners have been intensively considering leaving Lety in the past two years, he added.

Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL), who participates in the negotiations with Dienstbier, said in August that the government was close to an agreement on the purchase of the Lety pig farm and that the problem could be tackled by the end of its election term or by October 2017.

Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) will visit the former Romany camp in Lety on Tuesday, along with Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) and Herman, ANO spokeswoman Lucie Kubovicova confirmed to CTK on Monday.

Dienstbier also said yesterday the government had not debated Babis’s words on the Lety camp.

According to an reporter, Babis said during his visit to a socially deprived locality in Varnsdorf, north Bohemia, last week that it was a lie that Lety had been a concentration camp. “It was a labour camp. Who did not work, ended up there,” he allegedly said.

Babis apologised for his words and along with his visit to Lety, he promised to secure money for building a memorial there.

Babis was called on to resign over his words that were also criticised by PM Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD).

However, if Babis distances himself from the statements, there is no reason for including the affair in the agenda of the lower house’s session, which the opposition demands, Sobotka said.

The Town Hall of Varnsdorf, where Babis talked on the Lety camp last week, has for years called for restricting social benefits for the people who do not want to work and preventing some “opportunists” from sponging off the welfare system, but politicians have done nothing so far to improve the situation, Varnsdorf Mayor Stanislav Horacek and Deputy Mayor Josef Hambalek (both unaffiliated for ANO) said in a press release.

Babis’s sentence on the Lety camp for Romanies was not addressed to journalists, but the minister was just calming down a stormy debate with citizens, they added, standing by Babis.

Dienstbier and Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksova (CSSD) also expressed concern about Babis’s statements on the situation in socially excluded localities. Dienstbier said on Monday Babis’s Finance Ministry was blocking 9.9 million crowns for field work in these localities.

The labour camp in Lety was opened in 1940. A similar facility existed in Hodonin u Kunstatu, south Moravia. In 1942, both facilities turned into internment camps and in August of the same year, Romany camps were established there.

Until May 1943, 1308 Romany men women and children were interned there, 327 of whom perished in the camp and over 500 were sent to the extermination camp in Auschwitz where most of them died. According to estimates, the Nazis murdered 90 percent of Czech Romanies.